Living organisms have always been a source of inspiration for designing nanomaterials. For instance, both spider silk and bundles of filaments from bivalve molluscs can be transformed from an assembly of proteins into biomaterials with remarkable mechanical and physical properties. In fact, proteins and peptides are well known for their ability to spontaneously self-assemble into organized supramolecular structures with unique properties.
As Canada Research Chair in Chemistry of Biological Nanoassemblies, Dr. Steve Bourgault is studying these processes. Amyloids-which are highly organized proteinaceous nanostructures historically associated with human diseases-are a key area of focus because their stability and mechanical properties suggest they hold great potential as biomaterials. Bourgault and his research team are leading strategies to manipulate these and other proteinaceous assemblies and uncover new functionalities. They will use the resulting knowledge to support vaccine development and explore innovative opportunities in (bio)nanotechnology.